New Class of KBTGSP Medical Students Take Oath at White Coat Ceremony

news-croftwwc3St. George’ s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) along with Northumbria University’s School of Applied Sciences (NU) officially welcomed a new class of medical students into the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP).  On January 17, 2008 the incoming class, which is nearly double the size of the inaugural Jan ’07 class of 54 students, participated in the symbolic White Coat Ceremony held at Northumbria University.

The SGU faculty, staff, students and their families were honored to have Mr. Rodney Croft, Dean of Clinical Studies, UK deliver the Keynote Address. Dr. Brian Curry, Associate Dean, Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, led the Processional while Dr. Peter Beaumont, an SGUSOM alumnus, served as the Master of Ceremonies.  They were joined by Calum Macpherson, SGU’s Vice Provost for International Program Development and NU’s  Vice Chancellor  Kel Fidler .

Dean Croft has had a distinguished career in both General and Vascular surgery in London.  As the UK’s Principal Expert on cardiovascular implants since 1993, he has been involved with establishing major Standards for cardiovascular implants and has been published in many scientific journals.


Dean Croft’s association with St. George’s University began in 1980 when he started teaching SGUSOM students at the North Middlesex University Hospital.  Beginning in 1986, he served as the Director of Medical Education for 15 years.  He also held the posts of Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the UK Surgical Faculty before his 2003 appointment as Dean of Clinical Studies, UK.

As he addressed the KBTGSP incoming class, now representing 14 countries throughout the world, Dean Croft emphasized the critical link between art and medicine.  He urged each student to take stock in the importance of both the scientific knowledge of medicine and the art of nurturing the patient-doctor relationship.  “Knowledge of the science of medicine is crucial but dealing compassionately and empathetically with patients and their relatives is truly the art of medicine,” said Dean Croft.  “Teaching the Art as well as the Science is rightfully a great priority for St. George’s”, he continued.

Interspersed with humorous retrospectives of his personal journey as a medical student, Mr. Croft explained that the opportunity which lay ahead of this group of young men and women is in fact, a great privilege.  As they begin to experience the academic and enriched cultural life of the KBTGSP, they must not forget that with privilege comes obligation, to their professors, families, fellow students and above all, themselves.


Many of the KBTGSP students will return to their homes in developing countries, thereby fulfilling a dream shared by the late Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Keith B. Taylor himself.  In his closing remarks, Dean Croft applauded these endeavors, which he believes have far-reaching beneficial effects on health care in the world.  “I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying you can make an enormous difference not only to the individual patients you treat, but in turn to their families and communities.”

Mr. Croft’s knowledge of UK undergraduate medical education is extensive, having served 13 years as Clinical Sub-Dean at The Royal Free Hospital Medical School, now the Royal Free University College Medical School.  Dean Croft was a member of the Governing School Council for nine years, the lead controlling Committee for the Medical School.  In 1993, he was awarded the School Medal of the Royal Free, the highest award given, and one which is highly regarded by London University.   He was appointed Honorary Senior Lecturer in Surgery at London University in 1994.

Educated at Selwyn College in Cambridge and Middlesex Hospital Medical School, Mr. Croft obtained a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1972.  Two years later, he received a Master of Surgery degree at Cambridge University and became a freeman of the City of London and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.    From 1972-1974 he was commissioned s a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps TAVR attached to C Squadron 21 SAS and thereafter as Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Royal Naval Reserve (1974 – 1983). Mr. Rodney Croft lives on the outskirts of London, is married with three grown children.  He enjoys travel and rowing, and is a keen clarinetist and saxophonist.

Read Dean Rodney Croft’s complete Keynote Address.

School of Medicine Adds New Department of Emergency Medicine

david hodgkinson

Dean Stephen Weitzman has appointed Dr. David Hodgkinson as UK Associate Chair of the recently established Department of Emergency Medicine. The addition of the Department reflects SGUSOM’s continued growth and development as an influential and valued international university.

The UK Executive Committee selected David Hodgkinson from a pool of highly respected and qualified applicants in the field.  David had served as Consultant in Emergency Medicine since 1994, initially in Stockport, UK and then from 1996 at Ipswich Hospital, the largest district general hospital in Suffolk, UK.  He trained at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, qualifying in 1983.  During his clinical training he spent time in UK hospitals as well as in the The Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia.  He has had wide experience in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching with a special interest in Clinical Toxicology and Traumatic Brain Injury and Resuscitation.  David has been an examiner for the MRCS at The Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and is now a Fellowship examiner for the FCEM.  He obtained a B Med Sci (Hons) Thesis at Nottingham University and has been a MSc Clinical Supervisor at The University of East Anglia.

Dr. Hodgkinson is widely published in leading national and European journals, with 28 peer-reviewed publications in specialty medical journals. He has written several chapters in standard specialty textbooks and he peer reviews original articles submitted to the Journal of Emergency Medicine. He has lectured at National and International meetings and sits on the National Research Committee for Emergency Medicine.

David is married with two teenage sons. His family will be accompanying him on his forthcoming visit to Grenada where he will attend the first meeting of the new Department of Emergency Medicine next month.  SGU is proud to welcome David and his family to SGUSOM, and looks forward to a long and fulfilling association with him.

In addition to a Department of Emergency Medicine, SGUSOM will create a General Practice and Family Medicine Department.  Applicants have now been invited from the GP Tutors at our UK Affiliated Hospitals for the post of UK Associate Chair in Family Medicine and General Practice.    Two new US Chairs will also be appointed in these two disciplines, in line with the main core Departments which will be based in the UK.

Published on 1/29/08

School of Medicine Grad Shares Real-Life “CSI” Experiences

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan, SOM ’00, is a medical examiner in New York City, one of the high profile posts in the country.

A 1991 graduate of Columbia University, Dr. de la Garza-Jordan recently addressed the Columbia University Club of Southwest Florida in Naples, FL. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan attracted the largest group of Columbia alumni ever to attend this event.

The lecture titled “A Day in the Life of a Medical Examiner” drew upon her varied and often “made-for-the-movies” experiences. The presentation addressed the many complexities of her career beginning with the cases themselves. Dr. de la Garza-Jordan explained that there is no shortage of challenges and unexpected elements including the detectives, fussy undertakers, forensic photographers and resistant families, making each day different from the next.

Clearly, her most compelling case is the recovery effort at the site of the New York Twin Towers. Dr. de la Garza credits her many colleagues from the Medical Examiner Office including Michelle Slone, also a SGUSOM graduate, for their tireless efforts in identifying the victims of this historic tragedy. She shared her first-hand perspective of the devastation and the remarkable collaboration within the various City of New York offices – an effort which continues to this day.

Dr. de la Garza points out an interesting fact about the 30 employed ME’s in the Medical Examiner Office of the City of New York: Only three are women, and each is a graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine. She is proud to be in such good company, and over the years has received praise from many experts in her field for the education and life experience provided by SGU.

Dr. Julia de la Garza-Jordan completed an anatomical and clinical pathology residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida, and completed an Immunopathology Fellowship (transplant pathology) at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami. She also completed a Forensic Pathology Fellowship at Miami-Dade Medical Examiner in Florida.

Dr. de la Garza-Jordan resides in New York City with her husband Dr. Robert L. Jordan, SGUSOM’s Department Co-Chair of Anatomical Sciences and the University’s Associate Dean of Enrolment Planning for Admissions.

“One World, One Health, One Medicine” Clinic a Success

group picture of one health one medicine 2007On Saturday, November 10th over 60 medical and veterinary medical students joined forces to assist the community of Dierre Morne, St. David in Grenada. “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Project was the University’s first health clinic providing both human and animal health care to those who attended.  The event was the brainchild of third term vet student Brittany King, who was inspired by a woman who attended a previous vet clinic. While appreciative of the care her pet received she expressed concern that the health care and education of the pet owners themselves was being overlooked.

Brittany took these remarks to heart.  As a class representative for the Student Affiliate of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SAAVMA), Brittany is well aware of the convergence of animal, human and ecosystem health and the importance of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” concept.  Armed with the belief that improving health care worldwide is a collaborative effort, she approached American Medical Student Association (AMSA) President Asad Bandealey about a health clinic that would address the needs of both humans and animals.   Enthusiastic about this initiative, both began to solicit volunteers from their respective schools, raise money, seek donations and select a location.

With the help of SGU faculty, student volunteers and clinicians from the Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH), an impressive health clinic for humans and animals was successfully created.  One week prior to the event, local radio, television and print advertisements promoted the event. SGU’s Communications Office facilitated this by producing the flyer, scripting and placing the radio and television advertisements and inviting the media, as is the case with every health fair.  “This,” said Brittany “was critical to the success of the health clinic.”  One local television station actually attended the event.

Proudly wearing bright green t-shirts designed by King, all volunteers began their day with enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference. Two tremendous tents were erected, accommodating medical and veterinary medical student volunteers and their patients.  Medical students also used the Parish church to ensure privacy for patients during medical exams and screenings.

Throughout the day, 40 medical student volunteers treated 140 patients, including 20 senior citizens at a local nursing home and five home-bound patients.  Tests were administered for blood pressure, blood glucose, eyes and hearing.  Breast cancer screening and self-examination techniques, along with patient education and children’s health were also part of the day’s activities.  AMSA was joined by IEA, the SGU academic honor society, SGU’s Pediatrics Club and Women in Medicine (WIM), a group under the AMSA umbrella.  According to Stephanie Muriglan, the President of WIM, her group’s mission is not just medicinal: “At these health fairs, WIM has set a goal to bring awareness to women about the importance of these clinical measures. Knowledge and control over their reproductive health is an important form of empowerment.”

Twenty veterinary medical students and seven clinicians from the VTH treated more than 60 dogs and cats through a variety of treatments including oral dewormers, mange treatments and vaccinations.  Brittany explained that they used a new three-year continuum DAP-R vaccine from Intervet, which will keep the animals protected from distemper, rabies, adenovirus and parvovirus longer than the previous one-year vaccine.   The animals’ owners also received Banfield leashes, collars and bandanas, in addition to a wealth of information about the health of their animals.  The veterinary medical students were surprised but not daunted by the attendance of six goats joined together by a rope.  With no large animal vaccines available, volunteers did their best to examine the animals and educate the owner about their care.

The impact of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair has reached beyond Grenada. Intervet, the supplier and sponsor of the veterinary vaccine DAP-R, matched the 200 vaccines used at St. David with a donation of 200 vaccines for animals in Africa.   This is proof that a unified effort within the broader health science profession is the most powerful and effective tool in improving health care worldwide.

For more photos of the “One World, One Health, One Medicine” Health Fair….

Published on 12/10/07

John Beshai, MD, St. George’s University ’96, Presents Landmark Clinical Trial at AHA Annual Meeting

john beshaiJohn Beshai, a 1996 SGUSOM graduate, presented a late-breaking clinical trial to an audience of peers and mentors at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA) on November 6th in Orlando, FL.  Dr. Beshai is an expert in cardiac electrophysiology, an area of medicine focused on the treatment of heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).  A respected scientist and the Director of Pacemaker and Defibrillator Services at the University of Chicago, he served as the National Principal Investigator and Steering Committee Chairman for the RETHINQ clinical trial.

For the RETHINQ trial, 172 heart failure patients were randomly selected to participate from August 2005 through January 2007.   One group of 87 patients received treatment with Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices while the remaining control group was untreated. Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy (CRT) devices are surgically implanted and deliver electrical impulses to both ventricles at the same time, making both chambers contract simultaneously thereby improving pumping efficiency.

While current guidelines support the use of CRT in patients with moderate to severe heart failure and a prolonged QRS duration, this study aimed to see if the device could benefit patients outside these recommended parameters.  Patients with a narrow QRS complex and evidence of mechanical dyssynchrony as demonstrated on echocardiography were included in the trial.  The results showed that those treated with CRT demonstrated no significant improvement in exercise capacity as measured by peak oxygen consumption. Some symptoms did improve, but quality-of-life scores, results of the six-minute hall walk test and echocardiographic parameters of left ventricular reverse remodeling did not improve significantly.

“There was no significant difference in the change in peak oxygen consumption between the treatment group and the control group during cardiopulmonary testing,” reported Dr. John Beshai.  “Further research is necessary,” he said.   These results were significant, as CRT may not benefit about a quarter of the country’s estimated 500,000 heart failure patients.

The RETHINQ results presented by Dr. Beshai were simultaneously published online by the New England Journal of Medicine. They are expected to be published in the December 13 print issue of the publication.

This trial was funded by St. Jude Medical Center, makers of the CRT device.
For a video presentation of Dr. Beshai’s clinical trial please see….

Published 11/26/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine Students Enlightened By Innovative Selective in Thailand

selective in thailandOn July 16, 2007 a group of 37 SOM students set off on a two-week academic and cultural adventure to Thailand, initiating an understanding of a different view of medicine and healing. This innovative program was designed to offer participating students the opportunity to experience both conventional Western medical practices and Eastern medical practices in two different locations in Thailand.

The inaugural group of students was representative of SGU’s international student body, originating from Africa, Canada, the United States and the Caribbean.  The participants were divided in half, with Group A spending the first week in Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand with a unique blend of spiritual and cosmopolitan life, and Group B in Bangkok, the nation’s capital.  At the conclusion of the first week, Group A and Group B switched locations and began the second week in a new city.  The intimate group size was critical to the success of the program.

Through the efforts of Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean, School of Medicine and Mr. Michael Weitzman, appointed by SGU as a Director of Thai Services, the students maximized their experience in each location. Michael Weitzman resides in Thailand and is responsible for the administration of this program.

In Bangkok, students spent the week shadowing Thai medical students, viewing operating room procedures, performing rounds, seeing patients and attending lectures in Thailand’s oldest public hospital, Siriraj Hospital.  Founded in 1888, Siriraj is the primary teaching hospital in the country, with a capacity of more than 3,000 beds and more than one million outpatient visits per year.  While it is one of the largest and most congested medical centers in Thailand, the students were impressed by the educational environment and the Thai hospitality.  In fact, many SGU students were appreciative of the faculty, staff and students’ continuous attempts to communicate in English during rounds, observations and shadowing.  Janelle Applewhaite said, “More than anything I appreciate, beyond expression, the efforts made by everyone to speak English.  The doctors and medical students were all extremely willing to improve our learning experience in this way.” She continued, “I enjoyed the ward rounds (which were discussed in Thai, but students were on hand to interpret for us) and valued very much the opportunities to observe procedures in the operating theaters.”

SGU student Brenda Ernst eloquently describes her experience in Siriraj, “The exposure to medicine in the Bangkok hospital further motivated me to continue my active pursuit of knowledge in medicine with new excitement and new drive.  I fully appreciate the exposure to medicine in Thailand as well as the lessons in diversity impressed upon me.  It is my belief that the skills I have gained through this interaction with a unique culture will benefit me as I strive to be not only culturally aware but culturally minded in my clinical practice.”

The curriculum in Siriraj was extremely rigorous, each day filled with scheduled academics.  Students looked forward to a more relaxed experience in Chiang Mai that would enable them to experience more of the Thai culture and sights.

Located 700 km north of Bangkok among some of the highest mountains in the country,  Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand.
While in Chiang Mai, students learned the intricacies of Thai massage at the International Training Massage School (ITM).  ITM is accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education and approved by the Thai Ministry of Public Health.  It is also accredited and recognized internationally by many professional colleges and associations for continuing education in the regulated healthcare field.

Well known for teaching westerners and international travelers the practice of massage, this facility offers students a unique perspective as they learn the foundation and techniques of Thai massage as both a student and a participant. SGU students completed the first of five levels of courses offered at ITM, which included massage, acupressure points, the concept of energy line, yoga and Yin/Yang.  Applewhaite describes her stay at ITM as a “most fulfilling experience,” feeling very confident that the techniques she learned were both authentic and inspiring.While in Chiang Mai, students availed themselves of the many cultural activities including shopping at the famous nightly bazaar, visiting the sites, hiking among the local hills and forests, Thai boxing, mountain biking, bamboo rafting, and sampling the local music and cuisine.  SGU student Kyanh Nguyen enjoyed many excursions with his fellow classmates, including elephant riding at Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain.  “The elephant ride looked simple, but in fact was phenomenal.  It was a new experience to ride at a great height on a live animal,” said Nguyen.

Upon completion of the two-week program each student was asked to provide a written essay evaluating their experience and critiquing the curriculum in both Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Their response was overwhelmingly positive.  “I was hoping to gain an integrated view of medicine – one where both the allopathic and ayurvedic worked in parallel with each other.  I definitely was able to enhance what I learned in Clinical Skills and Anatomy with the time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.  I really enjoyed both parts of the program, and hope that next year’s students gain as much experience from the Selective,” said Camille Immanuel.According to Michael Weitzman, plans for another Summer Selective in Thailand are underway.  Upon completion of the two-week program, of which tuition and academic expenses were funded by SGU, each student received one credit for this course…..  Clearly, they returned to Grenada with much more.

Published 10/23/2007

New Class of Medical Students Take Oath at White Coat Ceremony

dr john j cushSt. George’s University School of Medicine officially welcomed a new class of medical students at the White Coat Ceremony on August 20, 2007.  The faculty and staff of SGU were honored to have Dr. John J. Cush, MD, a member of the second graduating class of SGUSOM in July of 1981, give the Keynote Address to the incoming class of 389 students from 22 countries. Dr. John H. Adamski, MD, MPH, MSc, one of the first dual degree students at SGU from the graduating class of 1999, currently a trauma and critical care surgeon at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Maryland, was the Master of Ceremonies who welcomed the students and introduced the speakers. Chancellor Charles R. Modica wished the students much success as they symbolically marked their official entry into medicine.

Dr. Cush addressed his audience of students and their families with humor and sincerity.  He made mention that the hurricane traveling through the Caribbean, with subsequent travel delays and inconveniences, was merely one of many life challenges we all face each day.  He urged the students to view all challenges, both small and large, as an adventure to be embraced and met head on with dignity and determination.   “St. George’s University, “  he said, “will introduce you to many new and very real adventures.  They become great when you rise to the occasion and master it.  They become sadly memorable and deeply educational when we fail to control or manage them.  So your medical education and your medical lives will be a curious interplay of great triumph and occasional disappointment.”

Drawing on his own experiences as a student at SGU, Dr. Cush said that the great lessons start in Grenada, often disguised as adventures and challenges and will continue throughout their education and careers.   He recommended that each student get to know Grenada, beyond the walls of True Blue, always being aware that as guests on the Island, “kindness and respect are skills that need constant attention.”

In his final remarks to his audience, Dr. Cush expressed, “Great physicians are foremost great people.”  He praised SGU for its efforts to foster and acknowledge humanism through education, encouraging the students’ participation in activities that will benefit both local and global communities.

Repeatedly voted one of the “Best Doctors in America” and “Best Doctors in Dallas,” Dr. Cush is a recognized leader in the complex field of rheumatology. In 1984, Dr. Cush began his rheumatology fellowship and was later appointed to the Rheumatology faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.  Since 1996 he has been Chief of the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Medical Director of the Arthritis Center at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.  In addition, he is a Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.  Dr. Cush has produced over 100 publications in his field, including co-authoring two leading rheumatology textbooks.

Dr. Cush is a great supporter of the SGUSOM and serves on the Board of Trustees and is Chair of the Academic Board of Trustees for the University.  He also serves on the Arthritis Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration and is Chairman of the Corporate Relations Committee for the American College of Rheumatology.

Read Dr. Jack Cush’s Complete Keynote Address.

Published 9/10/2007

Dr. Jack Cush’s Keynote Address

Dr. John J. Cush, MD, a member of SGU’s second graduating MD class, urged students at the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony to view all challenges, both small and large, as an adventure to be embraced and met head on with dignity and determination.  

What Defines You

Senator Antoine, Chancellor Modica, University Deans, Parents, guests, Ladies and gentlemen… and my fellow classmates.

It is a tremendous and humbling honor to be here with you today.  As a graduate of SGU, this is truly great to return to GRENADA, my 2nd home, to address my mentors, peers and you – my new colleagues in medicine.  My debt of gratitude to this institution cannot be quantified.  Equally large is my respect and sense of responsibility to you – the life blood and future of this institution.

I am like you.  I once sat where you now sit – eager and anxious at the start of medical school.  I am a graduate of SGUSOM who has been blessed with unexpected opportunity and achievements beyond my early expectations.  The years and accomplishments have come fast, but at a moment like that, one can only pause and wonder how did I get here; why me?  From this day forward you are medical students.  Today you can write MSI after your name…then MS2, 3, 4 until you can finally place an MD after your name.  Ladies and gentlemen you will earn the alphabet soup that follows your name thru blood, sweat, and tears – and tuition.  You give us 4.5 years of excellence and we will give you an MD and a world that desparately needs your compassion intellect and skill.  Along with this degree comes a wealth of opportunity, public stature, responsibility and a life of purpose and clarity.

Every MSI and Graduate of SGUSOM started their professional pathway with this great burden of challenge in front of them.  Ive too have been rejected, doubted, advised to go elsewhere; but here we are … meeting the challenge.  For this I applaud you and warn you – it will only get worse from here on out.

This summer I heard a troubled sports figure quote Mohandes Gandhi, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. ”  The spirt of adversity resonates with many graduates of St. Georges Univ School of Medicine.  More important has been their consistent ability to recognize adversity, then overcome and master it. This is a shared adventure that you too have signed on to.
Adventure– defined as act involving risk or surprise.  So for many of us our first adventure was this weekends travel to Grenada during Hurricaine Dean.  Interminable delays, cancellations, airport attitudes, bad food, etc.  As a pampered 1st class 200,000 mile a year traveler I would normally have been as irate and perturbed as any, but watching our new students and their families was a curious and familiar event and hence I watched much of this with great amazement.  The disconcerted, disconnected med student travelor was not me, but was now you.  Most coped, some behaved badly and thankfully some upper classmen were present to mollify the angst.  I proudly thought, their first lesson has begun.

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “
Events such as these, maybe trying, but they are also formative. You will be faced with may equally difficult and unfathomable predictaments in your medical lives.  These events will test your metal as a person and a physician.  In my first trip to SGU and Grenada, the flight was also delayed and we arrived without any luggage.  Being a hefty guy finding replacement clothing in downtown St. Georges was impossible.  However, one clothing shop did have an XL pair of baggy swim shorts for me. Unfortunately they were PINK.
“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. “

Adventures are about the unexpected. 

Some adventures are the result of will, others by fate, some by scholarship.  Robert Louis Stevenson once said  “The most beautiful adventures are not those we go to seek”. St. Georges University and medical school will introduce you to many new and very real adventures. Whether you like it or not, they define you.  They become great when you rise to the occasion and master it.  They become sadly memorable, and deeply educational when we fail to control or manage them.  So your medical education and your medical lives will be a curious interplay of great triumph and occasional disappointment.

While you’ve all chosen medicine because of your love of mankind, your desires to alleviate suffering and hopes for an effectively applied intellect, you’ve overlooked a common truth – that bad things happen to good people.  That’s right….you’ve all chosen to go into the bad news biz. “Mrs Swanson, your husband just died 20 minutes ago in the OR”  or “Mr Raffert you have pancreatic cancer and only 4 months to live”  or “Frank….to have the worse case of bad breath Ive ever witnessed.  Can you wait outside … no I mean outside the building, while I figure out what we are going to do”.  The patients will be both good and bad, young and poor, family and foe, cooperative or unkind.  The only constant is you and what you bring to the table – your intellect, your effort and your kindness.  But where do these skills come from?

A recent presidential debate introduced a question about the power of prayer. Most candidates were unsure of the preventative power of prayer, but all agreed on the healing capacity of prayer.  Prayer or thoughtful introspection often helps you find the strength to endure that which was previously unthinkable. There is no chapter, textbook, formula or pat answers for the tough stuff in life or medicine. Yet, you (the doctor) will be expected to provide wisdom, solace and leadership during the difficult moments of death and disease.

Do not wrongly consider these difficulties, challenges and inconveniences. Instead, recognize that great lessons start here in Grenada (often disguised as adventures and challenges) and will continue throughout your education and career.  Each is an opportunity for you to learn and to master adversity.  You are now in a position of great influence.  In times of trouble, many will come to you…the MS1,2,3,4 or MD – Because your suppose to know. For goodness sake you got a 27 on the MCAT!! Much is expected of you….please do not disappoint me, or your mother or yourself.

In the course of these adventures you will be sharing your path of enlightenment and greatness with your classmates, your family, your faculty. Our faculty is superb. You should expect much from them as they expect much of you. The notoriety of our faculty is evident. The national weather service has decided to name its hurricanes after our faculty. This weekends hurricane was an attempt to honor our many notable Deans.  Faculty, family and classmates – these are the people who will deliver you, the coat tails you will need to grab onto at times. Be good to them, love them, show them your appreciation and above all listen to them. While you may be the “doctor” or the MSII – your still the guy or girl who cant clean your room, balance a check book or burn water on the stove.

Some Advice for Entering Freshmen.

1) SLOW DOWN & CHILL – don’t raise your voice or blood pressure. Respect and action are more easily achieved with a smile than a shout of crazed urgency. Your NY minute does not register on a west Indian clock. Realize that a 4 wk a transition period is needed before youll calm down enough to understand the pace, the pronounciations and the policies  of this island and school.

2)  Welcome to bug island. We have bugs the size of fondue pots. There were here first and …oh and theyre here on scholarship. Don’t waste time trying to kill them. Divert them and ignore them

3) Stop talking dollars & start talkin EC ($10US = 26EC  OR  10EC.=$3.73US)

4) If at 1st you dont succeed – blame your roommate.

5) When the going gets tough – the tough goes for a run, or goes to kickboxing class.  Theres true wisdom in the healthy mind and healthy body connection.  Make yourself healthy for a lifetime of greatness. It starts here where you only need to focus on your health and scholastic achievement.

6) True Blue is not Grenada. – Get to know Grenada; read a book, visit the museum, find a  get a favorite waiter; go to church; read the paper watch videos Heartbreak ridge or Island in the Sun.  It would be a wasted education if you left grenada without knowing grenada.

7) Learn how to learn. Make use of the universities Department of Educational Services (DES).

8) Realize that how you treat each other today will predict how you will treat your patients in the future.  Kindness and respect are skills that need constant attention, especially while living as guests in grenada

9) Just show up. Seventy percent of success in life is showing up (Woody Allen).

10) Medicine will be your life and work – not your lifes work. Don’t confuse the two. Be good at your work, but work at being a good man, woman, parent, spouse etc.  The best physician is a well rounded being.

This White Coat ceremony was started by the Arnold P Gold Foundation to impress upon students the importance of compassion, humility and dedication to the practice of medicine.  This ceremony bookends to the Hippocratic Oath and graduation and signifies your desire and dedication to the profession.

The white coat itself is emblematic of the scholar, physician and medicine. The challenge of laboratory studies, the high standards of practice and the stately demeanor of the diagnostician and healer.  That’s one crazy monochromatic coat.  Wearing that coat assigns great responsibility – to your community, your family and yourself.

Great Physicians are foremost great people. They are generous, kind, selfless, gregarious and good looking too.  In essence they are humanists. The Arnold P Gold Foundation also established the Gold Humanism Honor Society. During your tenure here you will hear of SGU efforts to foster and acknowledge humanism during your medical education.  Students will be encouraged to partake in activities outside of the classroom or hospital that result in substantive benefit to their community and fellow man.  Such commitment to a humanitarian activities while matriculated as a SGUSOM student may be rewarded by inclusion in the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

In closing, I hope that you will realize that Adversity and Adventure will define, develop and complete you as a person and physician.  Recognize lifes challenges – meet them, master them and most of all, enjoy them!

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time. “

Jack London (1876 – 1916), Jack London’s Tales of Adventure

Published 9/10/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine and Northumbria University’ Welcome 2nd KBTGSP Class at White Coat Ceremony

sir kenneth stuartOn August 17, 2007 St. George’s University School of Medicine (SGUSOM) and Northumbria University’s School of Applied Sciences (NU) welcomed a new class of medical students into the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP).  This class has 119 students from 13 different countries, a significant increase from the 54 students in the January ‘07 charter class. The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of medical studies as the official entry into the profession of medicine.  Students don the white coat, a symbol of their chosen profession, and swear a professional oath, promising to act with integrity and in an ethical manner during their training and careers in medicine.

The Keynote Speaker was Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, an accomplished academic who serves as a member of the Academic Board of SGU and the Board of Directors of the UK Trust for WINDREF.  A past Medical Adviser to the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, Sir Kenneth Stuart also served as Professor and Dean of the Department of Medicine at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica; a consultant at University Hospital, Jamaica; and consultant advisor to the Wellcome Trust.  He served as Chairman of the Court of Governors of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and as a member of the Council of Governors of Guys’, Kings and St. Thomas’ Hospitals Medical School, London.  Sir Kenneth Stuart has published many articles in medical journals on hepatic and cardiovascular disorders.  He is also a patron of Doctors for Human Rights and trustee of London Lighthouse.

The Master of Ceremonies was SGU alumni Zahida S. Chaudry, MD, SGU’05.  She gave a realistic and yet impassioned view of the practice of medicine.  They were joined by SGU’s Chancellor Charles R. Modica and NU’s Vice Chancellor Kel Fidler who both welcomed the students to St. George’s, Northumbria University and Newcastle, and the profession of medicine.Sir Kenneth Stuart inspired this new class during his keynote address, as he praised the SGUSOM and NU partnership for its “wisdom and foresight.” During the opening of his speech, he stated that in addition to being a special occasion for each individual student, this was a public occasion as well.  “This (occasion) is a public mark of a partnership between SGUSOM and NU, which, I predict, will make it the largest and most important international centre for medical education for years to come.

”Sir Kenneth Stuart captured the essence of SGU’s foundation and future endeavors as he spoke of the powerful unifying effects of universities working together toward a “sense of shared humanity.”  He compared SGU’s thirty-year journey of academic growth and international expansion to the exciting journey each student was about to begin.  He urged the class to set goals that are both fulfilling and substantial.

Sir Kenneth Stuart expressed that one of medicine’s challenges is the collective responsibility to strengthen the health care system globally.  This, he stressed, is a privileged position for doctors, “an international guild or brotherhood, where members can take up their calling in any part of the world and find colleagues whose traditions, methods and objectives are identical with theirs.”

Read Prof. Sir Kenneth Stuart’s complete keynote address.

Published 9/1/2007

St. George’s University School of Medicine and Univ. of Northumbria at Newcastle School of applied Science Inaugural White Coat Ceremony 18 August 2007 Address by Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart

Professor Sir Kenneth Stuart, an accomplished academic who serves as a member of the Academic Board of SGU and the Board of Directors of the UK Trust for WINDREF, compares SGU’s thirty-year journey of academic growth and international expansion to the exciting journey each student is about to begin. 

Chancellor Dr. Modica, Vice Chancellor Professor Fidler, Lord Walton, Dr. Rodney Croft, Dr. Rao, Dr. Chaudry, Dr. Baruha, Dr. Cheryl Macpherson, invited guests and colleagues and, in particular, the undergraduates, because it is primarily you whom I address today, my first words must be of congratulations on the profession you have chosen and of welcome to this, the first staging-post on your way towards it.

I am deeply flattered to have been able to join the long and distinguished list of St. George’s white coat speakers. Some of you might recall George Bernard Shaw’s words:  “What really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.” I am more than flattered by the invitation to deliver this address. I am deeply honoured.

This is both a personal and a pubic occasion. It is personal for you, the undergraduates, your families and your friends. You are embarking on the study of a profession that will inform your lives for years to come. It is also a public mark of a partnership between the St. George’s University School of Medicine and the University of Northumbria, which, I predict, will make it the largest and most important international centre for medical education for years to come.  I congratulate its architects for their wisdom and foresight.   There is an old African adage which says: “If you wish to go quickly, go alone; but if you wish to go far, go together.”  I am confident that the journey of this partnership will be long and fruitful.

International university collaboration

This partnership is characteristic of developments, already underway, that are hallmarks of the new world that globalization is calling into being. Universities working together towards shared interests and goals will have potentially powerful unifying effects for otherwise separate groups and for scattered communities.  They have special capabilities and provide special opportunities.  They can chart a path through different cultures and assist people of diverse backgrounds to work together towards a sense of a shared humanity. They can provide a much needed international educational outreach.

Achieving this is essential if we are to, in the words of Nelson Mandela, “make the world safe for diversity.” Never before have so many peoples and countries had so much in common; and yet never before have the issues that divide them been more numerous and threatening. I look to the time when there will be global networks of universities which will facilitate collaborative and educational exchanges worldwide.   There has been too much of a tendency for doctors and other health professionals to train and work in geographical, social and cultural isolation. We are now at a crossroads of international change – development, history, education and human spirit.  Vigorous initiatives towards exchanges between medical undergraduates and young graduates are now being catalyzed. Such exchanges are essential underpinnings for what is now being termed the ‘global village.’

It has been my privilege not only to witness but to participate in the unfolding excitement of the academic growth and international expansion of the St. George’s University School of Medicine for nearly 30 years. There are several reasons why I am confident that you, the new undergraduates, will find your own educational journey through the joint curriculum provided by the partnership between these two illustrious institutions exciting.

There aren’t many universities that would be able to offer part of their undergraduate training against a background of flowering frangipani, flaming poinsettias and the azure blue water of the Caribbean, a choice of undergraduate colleagues from more than 80 countries, a range of US and UK teaching hospitals for clinical studies, a selection of teachers and instructors from among the most highly qualified in the world and the best equipped undergraduate teaching laboratories to be found anywhere.

Undergraduate educational challenges

The period of training you are now embarking on will bring challenges and rewards for you yourselves as undergraduates and, yes, for your teachers as well. Teachers of medical undergraduates also have challenges.  My own most cherished and happiest memories, my greatest sense of challenge and achievement as a medical teacher dated back to November, 1954. The first class of young doctors from the University of the West Indies was about to graduate. Their graduation was, for all of us, their teachers and course instructors, a defining moment. For students and staff alike a wonderful experiment had now been accomplished. These young men and women will always hold a special place in my memories and affections. They had arrived five years before from Jamaica and several of the other West Indian islands as new undergraduates, like you today, at the recently established University of the West Indies. We, their teachers, had strived to train them to the highest standards and to inculcate them with the highest values of our profession.  They, the newest of our colleagues, were now, as you yourselves will be in a few short years, about to embark on their own careers.  In a life that later experienced many other professional rewards I still think of the graduation of that first medical class of the university of the West Indies as one of the highest points of my own professional career.

Let me early in my talk associate myself with the words of welcome and advice in Chancellor Modica’s message to you today: “As you begin your studies for this challenging career, you must weigh opportunity against responsibility.  St. George’s University will equip you with all the right tools for the job, but how much you take away will depend on how you approach the experience and how much effort you invest in it. I wish you every success”.

For success you will need special competences and skills. Their achievement can be summed up in one word: “work”. Professor William James, Harvard psychologist, had this message for young undergraduates: “Let none of you have any anxiety about the upshot of his education, whatever line it may be.  If he keeps busy each hour of the working day he may safely leave the final result to itself.  He can, with perfect certainty, count on waking up some fine morning to find himself one of the competent of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out.”  Students too often settle for a concept of education that is little more than instrumental, that contents itself with course work, with passing examinations.  But, although this may be a by-product, it can’t be a goal.  The goal must be something larger, more fulfilling, more substantial; something that will not only provide a context for what you do know, but will tell you how to use it; something that will chart a course for what you might become rather than merely validate what you have learned; something that will enable you not only to adapt to tomorrow’s changes, but to play leadership roles in effecting them.

Indeed a measure of the success of your education will be the capacity it will give you not only to adapt to change but to manage and direct it, to be aware of the gap between what can be done and what is being done, to be willing to challenge assumptions about the current reality, to shake things up, to persevere and to give leadership.

It is you, the younger people, who provide the vital links between a community’s aspirations and its achievements.  It is you who will have a significant influence on future medical orientations as you practice your professions.  It will be up to you to have the courage and self assurance to resist distractions from medicine’s highest ideals, the confidence to do things differently, the optimism that what you do can make a difference. It is at the undergraduate stage of your careers that first steps in this direction, the preparation for these roles, must be taken.

Medical professionalism

Let me take this opportunity to remind you of some of the obligations, responsibilities and commitments the practice of medicine will entail. In his message to you today Dean Weitzman urges you to “recognize that in entering the field of medicine, you join a community, wherein the team is as pivotal to success as individual effort.  To this end, you must strive for excellence in your pursuit of knowledge, for you can only give your best when you fulfill your potential.  As you don these white physician coats, you pledge an oath of professionalism and service. Professionalism is a commitment to integrity, altruism, competence and ethics in the service of others.”

A description of medical professionalism from London’s Royal College of Physicians sets out these values, behaviours and relationships at greater length: “Medicine is a vocation in which a doctor’s knowledge, clinical skills and judgment are put in the service of protecting and restoring human well-being.  This purpose is realized through a partnership between patient and doctor, one based on mutual respect, individual responsibility and appropriate accountability. These values, which underpin the science and practice of medicine, form the basis for a moral contract between the medical profession and society. Each party has a duty to work to strengthen the system of health care on which our collective human dignity depends.”

I must hasten to add, however, that the practice of medicine is more than the performance of a set of ritual medical duties, the meeting of formal codified historical obligations. For most of you, I predict, it will also prove, as it has for me, a privilege to be able to be of such personal and continuing service to others; a pleasure to have an opportunity on a daily base to share a common humanity with so many people; to give encouragement, to share confidences, to be of assistance when needed. Dr. Chaudry notes that “while the field of medicine is challenging, the rewards and personal satisfaction are immeasurable.”

Medicine: its global reach

I must refer briefly to medicine’s global reach.  In his 1983 commencement address to the graduating class of St. George’s University School of Medicine, the late Lord Pitt stressed that “Medicine is international.  The fight against disease and, more important, the securing of good health, cannot be confined within national boundaries.”

In sharing certain basic interests, values, educational standards and goals, medicine functions in a field that has no inherent barriers.  It is an international guild or brotherhood, where members can take up their calling in any part of the world and find colleagues whose traditions, methods and objectives are identical with theirs.

This privileged position for doctors as world citizens carries with it globally accepted understandings and accords that extend beyond national to international health concerns. The doctor’s role in the protection and promotion of health, his acceptance of standards of competence, professional ethics and responsibilities have a worldwide extension; remain the bed-rock of medical practice everywhere.

Some unresolved medical issues

You might also wish me to share with you some of my own perceptions about a number of anomalies and contradictions that litter today’s medical landscape and cloud the horizons against which you will work during your professional lives. Practices related to medical drug usage and disease prevention are examples.

The tactics of the international pharmaceutical industry has led to a global hypochondria about how disease should be approached – ‘a pill for every ill’. It must bear much of the responsibility for the intellectual astigmatism with which so many doctors and so much of the public currently views issues of health and disease; in Britain today half of the adult population and a third of children take some form of medication every day. Two centuries ago Philippe Pinel, French psychiatrist and physician, said: “It is an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly: but, it is an art of much greater and more difficult acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether to omit them.”

Disease prevention is also an aspect of health on which there is not likely to be much disagreement.  For most medical disorders prevention is clearly cheaper, more humane and more effective than intervention or treatment after they occur.  This observation is hardly new; but it gives us the opportunity to look back critically at the past and forward to opportunities for the future.

The diseases that kill most people worldwide – the so-called non-communicable diseases, diseases caused not by infection but by how people live their lives – could be avoided by preventive action, by modifications of lifestyle, by activities that would make individuals more effective custodians of their own health than they have been in the past; that would make them more self-reliant, less dependent on doctors and other specially trained health professionals. Progress will continue to be made by improvements in the treatment of diseases and by the provision of more and better facilities for health care; but the opportunities for improving health by the prevention of disease are even greater.

I invite  your reflection, even at this undergraduate stage of your medical careers, on why prevention has failed so far to engage more fully the attention of the medical profession, on why prevention has not become a more important element in the health expectations of the public; on the distinction between medicine as a social institution and medicine in its more limited role of caring for the sick; on how in its larger role medicine could come to grips with the wider issues that influence health; on the meaning of health and how this meaning might be made more central to the concerns of both medical education and medical practice.

Sir Ian Kennedy’s comment is relevant; “If we were to start all over again to design a model for modern medicine, most of us, I am sure, would opt for a design which concerned itself far more with the pursuit and preservation of health, of well being.  What we have instead is the very opposite, a system of medicine which reacts, which responds, which waits to pick up the broken pieces – a form of medicine, in short, concerned with illness, not health.  A moment’s thought demonstrates the folly of this.”

Concluding comments

Let me conclude, as I started, with advice especially for you, the undergraduates. I will quote for you a comment from Sir William Osler’s “Aequanimitas” – ‘Peace of mind’, which, I will add, each doctor should strive for.  Sir William was the best-known physician in the English-speaking world at the turn of the 20th century. He has been called the “most influential physician in history.” I recommend the reading of Osler to undergraduates and graduates alike.  He emphasized the need for a renewal of emphasis on human values.  “Medicine”, he pointed out, “is the only one of the great professions engaging, equally, head and heart and hand. To an inquisitive mind the study of medicine may become an absorbing passion full of fascinating problems, so many of which present a deep human interest.

”More than two thousand years earlier the Roman orator, Cicero, in his treatise, “De Senectute”, (On Old Age) gave advice to older people: “Remain interested and never stop learning.” This advice is as relevant for you and your generation as it has been for me and mine.

I should like to link for you Osler’s comments to Cicero’s advice. Together they mean that a good beginning for each of you might be, as a personal responsibility, to ensure, firstly, continuity of the medical education you will receive in the coming years and, secondly, that your continuing medical education, whatever form it takes, should have human values as a central objective.  Senior citizens like me can provide valuable experiences from the past and useful guidelines for the future.  Much of the responsibility, however, of meeting tomorrow’s challenges will rest on your shoulders; and many of these challenges will have not only scientific but highly significant human dimensions as well.  This is why the human perspectives of the period of training you are now about to embark on will be as important as the scientific – and not only for the success of your future practice as doctors but also for the quality of the benefits you will both bring to, and derive from, the communities and specialties in which you elect to work.

Published 9/1/2007